Weapons of Mass Distraction

Weapons of Mass Distraction Writer, Os Guiness, is credited with coining the phrase “weapons of mass distraction,” in his book, “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.” His use of the phrase was in a religious vein whereby people are distracted so that they avoid immediate issues such as a belief in God and other matters of faith.

Steve Harvey has a wonderful motivational talk that can be found on YouTube in which he uses the same term, weapons of mass distraction. My understanding of Steve Harvey’s talk is that we use weapons of mass distraction to avoid the present. We use them so that we don’t get out of our own way to achieve success. I’m a fan of Steve Harvey and he’s an outstanding example of someone who was able to achieve great success by getting out of his own way.

We have other weapons of mass distraction that are being taken for granted as we spiral into a nation of the all-important, individual “Me.” How many hours a week do we spend gazing absent mindedly at the entertainment streaming services now available through television? Speaking personally, I’m a sucker for all of them, from 24-hour news, to sports, movies, drama, adventure, etc. Sometimes I think I need an organization like Alcoholics Anonymous for TV viewers. “Hello, my name’s Patrick and I’m a TV addict.”

Let’s go back a couple of thousand years to Rome when the Colosseum was built under the Flavian era of rule. One theory is that it was built to solidify the Flavian’s hold on power by providing distracting entertainment to the populace of Rome. If you keep the populous occupied, they don’t notice that things are deteriorating around their ears. As anyone would know who has seen Charltan Heston in late-night re-runs of the 1959 movie, “Ben-Hur,” or Russel Crow in the more recent movie, “The Gladiator,” the entertainment at the Colosseum was robust. It provided a safe view of savagery and death through miniature wars, combat between individual humans, and between humans and wild animals. Sometimes unarmed humans against wild and hungry beasts. Pretty chilling stuff!

Let’s admit it. For years we have had the same savage display of entertainment available to ourselves and our kids. Distraction at its finest! You don’t even have to leave home for it. Television series, streaming and movies promote violence. Violent television programs can be unsettling enough. However, with computer games, a youngster can kill two hundred people and then go have dinner with his mom.

Having recently returned from living overseas for nearly four decades I see this country differently than the typical, non-traveling American. To my eyes the change in this country is shocking. To those living here the change has probably been slow and insidious. In my observation our country is spiraling out of its orbit in the world. We will be reduced to the level of a third world country if we don’t lift ourselves out of our deepening quagmire of ignorance.

We have our own versions of the Colosseum for distracting entertainment, and we happily pay for them, every month.